Female potter smashes tradition

| Jan 19, 2005

Female potter smashes tradition

by Robert Yellin

In Japan it is quite rare to find women woodfire potters, who make their work in a traditional anagama (tunnel kiln) or noborigama (chambered climbing kiln). The reasons are historical, as women were not allowed to do such work for fear of insulting the ...

A journey through a landscape of clay

| Nov 10, 2004

A journey through a landscape of clay

by Robert Yellin

Kyoto ceramic artist Shin Fujihira creates works imbued with a childlike glee and an overflow of intelligent — rather than intellectual — energy that it’s impossible not to fall in love with. The man, as a favorite singer of mine says, “has sharpened his ...

Mino for the modern world

| Oct 13, 2004

Mino for the modern world

by Robert Yellin

The traditional Mino pottery styles of Shino, Oribe, Yellow Seto and Black Seto have been the pride of the Japanese ceramic world since the Momoyama Period (1568-1615). However, Mino pottery just isn’t what it used to be. Gone are its chadogu (tea wares) days ...

A diamond in the rough

| Jul 14, 2004

A diamond in the rough

by Robert Yellin

During the 20th century, Japanese studio pottery made by individuals came to the fore. Up until then, many potters worked for large kilns or were artisans involved in a production-line method; one man molded the pots, while another decorated and so on. The first ...

In the footsteps of a genius grandfather

| Jun 9, 2004

In the footsteps of a genius grandfather

by Robert Yellin

The perks and pressures of being the child of someone famous can be enormous — doubly so if following in the family footsteps. In Japan, with its grand artistic traditions, this is not an uncommon phenomenon. The results, though, range across a broad spectrum, ...

The Emperor's phantom porcelain set

| May 12, 2004

The Emperor's phantom porcelain set

by Robert Yellin

Rarely, if ever, has a dinner set taken on such a mysterious aura as the maboroshi (phantom) porcelain service made by the late Yoshimichi Fujimoto (1919-92). Used only once and then, for reasons that remain enigmatic, hidden away for years, it comprises 230 pieces, ...

| Apr 14, 2004

Pots that fired the passion of a magnate

by Robert Yellin

Centuries ago, during a brief span of 30-40 years, one of the classic styles of Japanese pottery was born. From the end of the Momoyama Period into the early Edo Period (late 16th-early 17th centuries) nearly 300 kilns were producing wares the world knows ...

Hold your breath and turn the wheel

| Mar 10, 2004

Hold your breath and turn the wheel

by Robert Yellin

Kyoto. The name conjures up images of courtly nobles and stoic Zen temples — and yet so much more of Japan’s cultural identity was born in that ancient city. In the world of ceramics, one of its glorious contributions has been Kyo-yaki, or Kyoto ...

You are always on my mind

| Feb 11, 2004

You are always on my mind

by Robert Yellin

Familiarity with an object or place can dampen the senses. It may not necessarily breed contempt, but it often leads to indifference. We see it all too frequently, as in the simple case of not visiting wonderful places in our own neighborhood, or the ...